It’s a battle we’ve all been through. We know that our little one is ill and that the medicine we have in our hands will make them feel better. No matter how much we beg, bribe or demand, they just won’t take it. It’s so frustrating it can make you want to pull your hair out at times, but the fact is they have to take their medicine. So what do you do? You can’t force them to take it, so how can you make sure your child takes their medicine willingly? Today, we have a few tips to help you without all the battles and stress.
Why Won’t My Child Take Medicine?
The first step is to try and understand why your child is refusing to take their medicine. It could be that they don’t understand why they need to take it, that they don’t like the taste or the texture of it, or maybe they have a hard time swallowing tablets or capsules. Sit down with your child and try to find out what’s wrong, and why they don’t want to take their medicine. When you’re having this conversation, try to understand how they feel and acknowledge their fears (because you know how horrible medicine can taste). Reassure them that they aren’t having to take the medicine because they’ve been naughty, and be honest about what they are taking and why. This can go a long way to helping them feel more comfortable taking medicine now and in the future.
Find A Good Spot
Where you give medicine can have a huge effect on how your child feels about taking it. So before you start, find out where your child would prefer to take their medicine, and in which way. Would they like to be on your knee (so that they can have a cuddle after), on the sofa, or lying in bed with their favourite teddy? Would they like to take the medicine from a spoon, a syringe, a dropper or drinking it from a cup or straw? Letting your child be in control of the way they get their medicine can go a long way to helping them take it easily.
Can You Mix It?
The most common reason a child won’t take medicine is because they don’t like the way it tastes. Which is understandable, given that a lot of medicines don’t taste very nice! It’s always worth asking your doctor if liquid medicine can be mixed with food or liquid. Not all medicines can, which is why you need to check, but if you can mix it in with a small amount of juice, honey, chocolate spread or something else nice-tasting, then it can make it more appealing for them to take on their own.
Avoid The Taste Buds
If liquid medicine can’t be mixed with food or drink, then you might need to try something else to avoid the taste buds. Most of our taste buds are at the back of the tongue, so you can try slowly putting the medicine in your child’s cheek with a syringe instead. This stops it tasting as bad, and makes it much harder to them to spit it out too, so you know they’re getting the whole dose. If your child is a bit older, giving them a drink of icy water before they take it can help shock the taste buds so they aren’t as sensitive.
Make It Routine
Routines are an important part of your child’s life, and make them feel more comfortable and confident in the world around them. Having to take medicines can get in the way of their routines and cause a bit of upset, so if you can, try to avoid too much disruption. Instead, you could try making medicine a routine of its own, or work it into their daily routine. This helps you make sure medicine is always taken at the same time and you’ll probably get less pushback. Maybe before a favourite TV show or activity, so that there is something positive to look forward to afterwards.
Give Rewards And Praise
When your child does take their medicine, always give them lots of praise, cuddles and love, even if the process of getting them to take it has been long of difficult. If you want to reinforce good behaviour, you could use a reward system. Stickers and reward charts work well in my experience, with simple rewards when they have collected a certain amount of stickers. Doing something fun after a dose is a good idea too, as it encourages them to want to take it again.
It’s important to remember that there will be some days that these strategies work and some where they don’t. If that happens, take a break and try again later – don’t give up! If you truly feel you’re getting nowhere, you can go back to your doctor and ask for a different flavour or type of medicine, or advice on what could be causing them to refuse medicines.
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